The Early Years
The history of the Canadian militia covers hundreds of years. In 1534, Jacques Cartier fired the first artillery along the Atlantic coast. Since then, colonists served in the militias of New France and British North America.
In 1793, the Loyal Company of Artillery formed in Saint John, New Brunswick. This unit exists today as the 3rd Field Artillery Regiment, RCA. The War of 1812 and the Rebellions of 1837-38 helped promote new militia units.
The Crimean War (1853-1856) resulted in fewer British Regulars in British North America. The Canadian Legislator passed the Militia Act of 1855, which authorized a volunteer militia of up to 5,000, including batteries of artillery, equipped and trained at government expense.
In 1855, the militia formed five volunteer artillery batteries in Hamilton, Kingston, Montreal, Ottawa, and Quebec City. They were the first Reserve or Non-Permanent Active Militia units.